BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. Department of Energy officials and an energy cooperative with members in eight states are negotiating a plan that could lead to the construction of small commercial nuclear reactors at an eastern Idaho federal nuclear site.

Officials with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems said the 890-square-mile site containing the Idaho National Laboratory is their preferred choice for what are called small modular reactors. The Energy Department confirmed the area is being considered but offered no details. Oregon-based NuScale Power would build the 50-megawatt reactors, with up to 12 reactors possible.

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems spokesman LaVarr Webb says the cooperative is looking for ways to replace coal plants. The company says if it decides to move forward with the small nuclear plants, they likely wouldn't be operational before 2023.