I’m going with the notion that no other explanation is needed:
Everywhere I’ve lived, paying the power bill was a relatively simple affair. You get a bill that included the amount of power you used in the previous month with a per-kilowatt charge and some basic flat monthly fee.
Here, however, they do not read the power meter every month. Instead, it’s every other month with some sort of estimate. These estimates tend to be wildly, wildly off. The end result of which is that our power bill ranges from one month to the next wildly. By a factor of two, in the most recent case. From $169 to $345. In this case, the estimate for February was low but in fact, the usage was abnormally high due to the weather. The end result was a low bill followed by a large bill.
Hmmm. Is this a private utility company, or a municipal power plant?
If they can’t actually send somebody to read the meter every month, they could do a lot worse than just saying $210 every month. Theoretically, they should have access to data that can more accurately guess how much we’re actually using. I assume that every month they’re reading houses, it’s just that they can only read half of them in any given month.
This is one of the better arguments for the so-called smart meter, which presumably can report in with its own reading when called upon. Both the electric and gas companies have installed them on my connections; I don’t think the city has, but then I haven’t opened up the meter, buried in the front yard, since about three plumbing repairs ago.