February 1991 to April, 2011, Chairman of the Board of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, a company he founded just five years earlier.
In 1989, at the age of 33, Sokol was the chief executive officer of a billion-dollar corporation, Ogden Projects. Two years later, he took the management reigns as chairman, president and chief executive officer of CalEnergy Company, Inc., then a small energy company operating a single geothermal power plant in the emerging renewable energy sector.
Through acquisitions, CalEnergy became MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company in 1999. In 2000, in an unprecedented move, the publicly-traded energy company went private. The company was acquired by an investor group including Sokol and Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. which today owns 89.5 percent of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company.
Under Sokol’s leadership, the 17,000 employees of MidAmerican have grown the company into a leading global energy provider with seven-million customers, $41 billion in assets and revenues exceeding $12 billion. This growth, driven by internal investments and a number of successful acquisitions, has formed a company with a broad range of energy services provided worldwide.
In March, 2002, MidAmerican acquired Kern River Gas Transmission Company and in August of that same year, Northern Natural Gas Company. This established MidAmerican as a leading operator of interstate natural gas pipeline systems with approximately 17,000 miles of pipeline. Those companies currently transport nine percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States.
In 2008, investment opportunities included wind generation, high-voltage transmission and an investment in a high-tech company in China. MidAmerican Energy Company and PacifiCorp added 1,005 megawatts of wind generation. PacificCorp started construction of the Energy Gateway Project, a $6 billion, 2,000-mile high-voltage transmission line project. Additionally, MidAmerican reached a definitive agreement to purchase approximately 10 percent of BYD Company Limited, a leader in battery development and manufacturing, solar power and environmentally conscious vehicles. Investment opportunities in 2009 include expansion of natural gas pipelines, the high-voltage transmission project and other renewable generating resources.
Today MidAmerican, through its utility subsidiaries, MidAmerican Energy Company and PacifiCorp, and its independent power production company, CalEnergy, contract and own interests in diversified generation facilities capable of producing more than 21,000 megawatts of electric power. Approximately 25 percent of that power comes from non-carbon, renewable resources such as geothermal, wind, solar and nuclear. Sokol is a leading proponent of establishing an Apollo-like program to fund research and development of technology to respond to global climate change, and he has presented this model to Congress and business groups.
Sokol, at the request of Berkshire Hathaway, also served as chairman of Johns Manville, as chairman and CEO of NetJets, Inc., and as a non-executive director of BYD Company Limited.
In summary, over the past 30 years, Sokol has taken three companies public and has completed over 50 billion dollars of acquisitions and financings. Additionally, he has led the management teams of three major corporate turnarounds.
His business philosophy, based upon vision, strategy and principles, is described in a book he authored in 2008, Pleased But Not Satisfied. This simple business model and his focus on developing future leaders has helped create a successful global organization.
Sokol continued with Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. until he retired in March, 2011, at the age of 55, and took up permanent residence in Jackson, WY to manage his family business investments. Teton Capital, LLC is headquartered in Jackson, WY and is a family holding company which oversees investments in the banking, manufacturing, consumer products, energy, real estate and technology businesses.
Sokol earned his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He also holds a Honorary doctorate degree in International Commerce from Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska.
He and his wife, Peggy, have a daughter Kelly and a son, DJ, now deceased. Sokol is active in community and charitable activities and places a significant emphasis on mentoring students. Particularly important to Sokol is his service as Chairman of the Board of the Horatio Alger Association. Sokol is an avid outdoorsman and splits his time between his grandchildren, hunting, fishing, mountain climbing and skiing.