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Using first and second law principles from finite-time thermodynamics, this paper introduces a class of bilinear models suitable for the optimization and risk management of commodity energy conversion processes. The model is intended for use at a high level to predict the efficiency of energy conversion in campus scale utilities with complex energy requirements, fuel sources, and significant operational flexibility. The bilinear character of the model derives from the second law which results in a multiplicative coupling between entropy flux and temperature driving forces. The paper offers three main results: 1) Economic optimization of this model yields a non-convex bilinear optimization problem. 2) Special cases for optimal operation reduce to generalized eigenvalue problems, or more complex rank constraints that could be solved using numerical algebraic geometry. 3) A computational strategy based on a linear outer approximation coupled with a branch and bound methodology to reduce the search region.