People secure the power line to a home as Hurricane Sandy approaches on October 28, 2012 in the Rockaway Beach neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. - 

It's been barely a year since Tropical Storm Irene caused over $10 billion in damage. In New England, utility companies are still explaining why it took so long to turn the lights back on.

Al Lara, who is the spokesman for the largest one -- Northeast Utilities, says the company has spent big bucks trimming trees near power lines to prevent future damage. "It's a significant investment, but what the storm from last year has taught us is that it's something that's required," says Lara.

Power outages can lead to a third of the economic damage from a big storm, says Chuck Watson, with the risk assessment firm Kinetic Analysis. He estimates Sandy's overall price tag could top $15 billion. "Just about everyone at all levels can suffer from these kinds of events... So for instance, instead of maybe expanding your warehouse and maybe adding a couple of workers, now you're having to cover the deductibles to fix the roof."

Watson says small businesses and hourly workers will especially lose out as Sandy makes landfall on a Monday.