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Family-run farm gets $112K for renewable energy

Lukan's Farm Resort opened in 1951. It's in Hawley, PA. The resort received over $100K to switch to solar energy.
Courtesy of Lukan's Farm Resort
Lukan's Farm Resort opened in 1951. It's in Hawley, PA. The resort received over $100K to switch to solar energy.

Lukan’s Farm Resort will generate enough energy to power 15 homes through a statewide grant.

REAP, or the Rural Energy for America Program, helps small businesses and farms invest in renewable energy. Lukan’s Farm is expected to save around $23,600 per year by switching to solar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

John Hocreither, the resort’s president, is ready to start construction. Lukan’s is family-owned, and Hocreither hopes the grant will grow the business. The farm passed through three generations, starting with Hocreither's grandparents. Hocreither now runs Lukan’s alongside his brother, and he said the two juggle lots of jobs.

“I do most of the cooking, I do all of the bookkeeping and a lot of the reservations,” said Hocreither. “And my brother has a lot of hats as well, [like] maintenance and lawn landscaping.”

Hocreither’s grandparents opened the business in 1951. He is excited to start this new venture, which he anticipates will help the surrounding community. The panels will cover one motel building roof, and he said it could make more electricity than the farm needs.

“The system has yet to be tested and proven, but it was engineered to produce slightly above what we use. And if it works out as well as [we think it will,] y’know, we’ve had talks that we’d potentially move forward with producing even more solar,” said Hocreither.

That excess energy would go back to the grid for the community, said Hocreither.

Lukan’s also harvests its own fruits and vegetables. Pennsylvania’s USDA Rural Development Director Bob Morgan said REAP gives farms more financial flexibility, which allows them to invest more resources into agriculture.

“We want to encourage businesses to expand in rural Pennsylvania. We also want to make it easier for farmers to be able to continue to afford to continue to stay in business. And continue their efforts at enhancing our nation’s food supply,” said Morgan.

Besides supporting local businesses, REAP aims to make agriculture cleaner. Senator Bob Casey said the program empowers rural industry, in an emailed statement.

“When we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, I fought to include the Rural Energy for America Program to help Pennsylvania’s rural communities and businesses save money by adapting to clean energy. Small rural businesses and agricultural producers are part of the lifeblood of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I supported this funding to help them stay competitive and reduce emissions to protect our environment.”

This round of REAP funding granted rural Pennsylvania $5.69 million for 31 renewable energy projects. Northeastern Pennsylvania won $560,158 for 8 projects, five are in Bradford County.

For a complete list of past and present projects, visit USDA’s Rural Energy for America webpage.

Isabela Weiss is a storyteller turned reporter from Athens, GA. She is WVIA News's Rural Government Reporter and a Report for America corps member. Weiss lives in Wilkes-Barre with her fabulous cats, Boo and Lorelai.

You can email Isabella at isabelaweiss@wvia.org