Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


Yue Li


Power distribution systems are susceptible to extreme damage from natural hazards especially hurricanes. Hurricane winds can knock down distribution poles thereby causing damage to the system and power outages which can result in millions of dollars in lost revenue and restoration costs. Timber has been the dominant material used to support overhead lines in distribution systems. Recently however, utility companies have been searching for a cost-effective alternative to timber poles due to environmental concerns, durability, high cost of maintenance and need for improved aesthetics. Steel has emerged as a viable alternative to timber due to its advantages such as relatively lower maintenance cost, light weight, consistent performance, and invulnerability to wood-pecker attacks. Both timber and steel poles are prone to deterioration over time due to decay in the timber and corrosion of the steel. This research proposes a framework for conducting fragility analysis of timber and steel poles subjected to hurricane winds considering deterioration of the poles over time. Monte Carlo simulation was used to develop the fragility curves considering uncertainties in strength, geometry and wind loads. A framework for life-cycle cost analysis is also proposed to compare the steel and timber poles. The results show that steel poles can have superior reliability and lower life-cycle cost compared to timber poles, which makes them suitable substitutes.