BOISE, Idaho — The U.S. Department of Energy, a Utah-based utility and a contractor that operates an eastern Idaho nuclear research facility have reached an agreement involving plans to build a dozen small modular nuclear reactors in eastern Idaho.

The Energy Department's Office of Nuclear Energy on Friday announced the agreement with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems and Battelle Energy Alliance, the Energy Department contractor that operates the Idaho National Laboratory.

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The utility has been working toward building 12 small nuclear reactors at the Energy Department's 890-square-mile (2,300-square-kilometer) site about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Idaho Falls.

Officials say the agreement includes using one of the reactors for research and development, and another for the power needed by the lab.

Licensing and an environmental analysis are needed before any reactors could be built.