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This work presents a formulation of the FIR filter problem with sum of power-of-two (POT) coefficients as a mixed integer linear problem and solves it heuristically. The optimization problem is formulated to minimize the number of nonzero bits in each coefficient without violating the filter specifications within the pass and stop bands. A novel fast and efficient local search optimization algorithm for the filter coefficients is proposed. The algorithm called POTx does not use a tree structure in contrast to conventional MILP algorithms and offers fast computation because of a presorted search space, a monotonic dedicated search space, and the use of abort conditions. The proposed approach achieves comparable reductions to nonheuristic approaches because of a hybrid allocation scheme and multiple optimization iterations. The usefulness of the proposed algorithm for low power design of FIR filters is shown through the evaluation of several benchmark filters.