Politifact Virginia: Armstrong charges big gains for Appalachian Power

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - He is one of the most powerful members of the General Assembly. Ward Armstrong is in a tough fight to keep his seat in the House of Delegates.

He is going after the Utility Appalachian Power (Apco) to make the case for why he should be sent back to Richmond. In this YouTube clip he says, "For the last 4 years, Appalachian Power has raised rates 9 times even though they are making record profits and giving executives millions in bonuses."

Is that accusation true? Has Apco raised rates while turning record profits? According to the reporters of Politifact Virginia that claim is so wrong, Armstrong's pants are on fire.

Politifact Virginia closely examined the documentation Armstrong uses to support his claim and found many holes in his argument.

He uses the power company's gross revenue as evidence for the record profits, but that doesn't take into account rising expenses.

Apco's net income went up more than 11%, but that isn't a measure of profit, which was not as high as profits in 2003.

Finally, he points to Apco's parent company raking in big bucks, which doesn't have anything to do with Apco, who has rates set by regulators here in Virginia.

According to Warren Fiske, Armstrong manipulates statistics to make misleading claims.

"He justifies a statement of record profits.  He says that Apco had a record $3.3 billion in revenues in 2010.  And that's correct, but the point is that revenues are not profits, and what he neglects to say is that Appalachian Power also had record expenses during that time," Fiske said.

And you can see all the information behind this week's Politifact Virginia report on their web site, www.politifactvirginia.com and you can see all our past reports on Ryan's political blog, www.decisionvirginia.com.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved