PHP SoapClient Warning: SoapClient::SoapClient(): Unable to set private key file

I’m trying to use soap to call a webservice but I keep getting the following error “Warning: SoapClient::SoapClient(): Unable to set private key file”.

I’m assuming that the error comes due to the fact the the .cer file I am using only includes public key and no private key. But i’m not sure of another way to use the .cer file. If i don’t use the .cer file i can connect just fine and I am able to call and receive results when i use the __getFunctions() method. However, when i try to use other methods i need to be authorized and that leads to the problem. Below is the simple code i am trying to use. Please let me know if more information is required.

ini_set('display_errors',1);
error_reporting(E_ALL);

ini_set('soap.wsdl_cache_enabled', 0);
$username = 'user';
$password = 'pass';

$ns = 'GatewayEDI.WebServices';
$auth = array();
$auth['User'] = new SOAPVar($username, XSD_STRING, null, null, null, $ns);
$auth['Password'] = new SOAPVar($password, XSD_STRING, null, null, null, $ns);
$headerBody = new SOAPVar($auth, SOAP_ENC_OBJECT);
$header = new SOAPHeader($ns, 'AuthSOAPHeader', $headerBody);

$client=new SoapClient('https://url/Service.asmx?WSDL',
                   array(
                  'local_cert' => 'file.cer'
                   ));

$client->__setSOAPHeaders(array($header));

$param = array(
  'X12Input'=>"testing",
  "GediPayerID"=>"52",
  "ResponseDataType"=>"Xml"
);

//this leads to private key error
echo $result = $client->DoInquiryByX12Data($param,$header);

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