Seven cities stand in the way of Walla Walla winning a $5 million one-money prize.

A recent ranking of the 50 cities competing in the Georgetown University Energy Prize — which kicked off in January 2015 — shows Walla Walla is at number eight, moving up one spot from last month’s ranking of nine.

The news of making the top 10 and closing the gap has city officials pushing for even more energy savings, including the recent creation of “energy czars” for every municipal building.

The czars go around making sure machines are turned off when not in use and help come up with new energy saving measures, said Erendira Cruz, executive director for the Sustainable Living Center.

The Center was the organization that asked the city to enter the Georgetown University contest in 2014, and it is currently coordinating the efforts by the city to save more energy.

To boost the city’s chances of a win, a committee made up of members from the city, the Sustainable Living Center and the community this year created a new home energy savings game called Walla Walla Power Play Bingo.

“With the momentum we have built, increased awareness of the effort, and more actions being taken by both the City and residents, there is definitely a chance that we could end up at number one,” Cruz said.

The Georgetown University Energy Prize contest ends Dec. 31 of this year, after which cities will be ranked on an energy saving ratio that takes into a count the size city’s population.

Other Washington top-10 cities in the competition include Anacortes, ninth; Bellingham, sixth; and Bellevue, fifth.

The current leader is Huntsville, Ala.

The $5 million winner is expected to be announced three to six months after the competition closes.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at or 526-8325.