February 29, 2012 | last updated June 1, 2012 12:54 pm

DEEP deputy resigns amid investigation

Connecticut's top energy deputy at the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, who is the former head of the regional cap-and-trade system, resigned immediately Wednesday morning as the agency investigated an alleged menacing phone message he left for the leader of a conservative women's group.

Jonathan Schrag, the former executive director of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, resigned his position as the DEEP deputy commissioner of energy in a letter to DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty on Wednesday.

"I am taking this step because of concern that my continued presence will be a distraction from the Department's efforts to create a new energy future for Connecticut," Schrag wrote in his resignation letter.

DEEP announced earlier Wednesday an investigation into a message left on the voicemail of Cynthia David of Essex, according to the Associated Press. In the message, the caller suggests David's e-mails are being monitored, as she had previously criticized a state environmental initiative. Schrag denies making the call but acknowledges the voice on the message is his.

Schrag took over the newly created position of DEEP deputy commissioner of energy in autumn 2011 after the state expanded the purview of the agency to include energy initiatives. Schrag is the former executive director of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the Northeast's 10-state collaborative to develop a cap-and-trade system. Connecticut is a member of RGGI.

Esty said he reluctantly accepted Schrag's resignation on Wednesday, citing the important role he played in the agency's development.

"I thank him for the part he played in consolidating our energy and environmental offices," Esty said in released statement. "He also worked tirelessly to promote the Department's goals of bringing cheaper, cleaner, and more reliable energy to our state."

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