Two major utilities and a pair of power plant manufacturers are considering a four-way alliance on nuclear power operations, sources said Wednesday, as the industry grapples with rising costs related to decommissioning and safety.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and Chubu Electric Power Co. are in discussions with Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. to possibly launch a joint company that would handle reactor maintenance. They are also considering jointly decommissioning obsolete reactors, the sources said.

Decommissioning and safety-related costs have been rising for power providers following meltdowns at Tepco's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Tougher safety rules have been introduced in the wake of the crisis.